Seaside Sculptures

We started a seaside hike with four of us on one of the barrier islands along the gulf coast. It was exciting to take regular breaks to construct natural materials sculptures. A wonderful variety of natural debris gets swept onto the beach.

Nature can be a creative inspiration.

I got several suggestions for naming the sculptures.

Nature Finds a Balance

The lower shelf, balance with sea shells, responds to the changing winds.

Nature Finds a Balance

Rest Awhile

Some of the details are hard to spot.

Rest Awhile

Scorpion

A very different effect when viewed from the opposite direction.

Sand Dial

This also represents the revolving or cyclical nature of weather and seasons.

Blue Heron

A still image doesn’t capture the lighter material at it blows in the wind.

Tired Runner with Warning Flag

I would have named this on “Nose Dive”. Others saw something different.

Tired Runner Recuperating

Shrimp Nets Drying

The shrimp boats in the area are often seen with nets hanging off both sides.

Shrimp Nets Drying

A shrimp boat working on the Gulf.

Alligator enjoying the sun

You just never know when you meet an alligator.

After constructing the sculptures, I headed alone to the end of the barrier island while the others turned back. It turned out to be a 35 km hike that took 7 hours.

Ghost Crab Making Trails

It is not very usual to spot a ghost Crab during daylight hours. They do make distinctive patterns in the sand. Some carry the sand much further than others.

Crab Design

The thin layer of black sand gives a sharp contrast to the sand dredged from deeper down.

Fowl Footprint

These footprints are larger than my hand. They were blue Heron prints; sized 9 and a half. My size 10 shoe print below.

Waters Converging

This is the end of a sand spit where the waters of the gulf meet the waters from the bay. Over time, the position of the sandpit changes dramatically.

Gulf Shoreline

Several kilometers down the coast from the last houses. Very few people venture this far.

Adorned Driftwood

In keeping with the by line, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints,” I put the seashells I had collected on the driftwood.

Lapping Edge

Near the end of the barrier island, the most noticeable thing was the smell of bird droppings. As I approached a squadron or pouch of over 100 pelicans, they took to the water. I,was welcoming them but they weren’t interested in welcoming me. I got the message that I was intruding on their favourite resting area.

Solitary Fishing Spot

This egret did not tolerate my approach, not expecting an intruder at this isolated pool.

Dune Erosion

There is clear evidence of the wind and waves building up the sand dunes in some places and eroding them in other places.

Nature’s Own Art

Even in very arid looking stretches of sand and surf, plants manage to get a foot hold, starting a new cycle of natural succession, culminating in the growth of long leafed pine.

Grey Skies Over Black Sands

A thirty-five kilometer hike to the end of a barrier island was an amazing experience. The experience included seeing undisturbed driftwood, and larger than usual seashells.

The weather was constantly changing. The fog would move in, making the world much smaller. The right setting for a meditative walk.

The sculptures that we built out of natural materials didn’t hold a candle to the beauty of the wind and the waves playing freely with the sand.

This was just a small sample of the limitless beauty.

Saying farewell to a majestic Heron.

Some great February memories of our visit to the Gulf of Mexico.

Jasper Hoogendam (c) February 2023

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Rank Colour

The Richness of Colour

Red and Yellow, Black and White

They all are precious in His sight

Out of the mouths of children

Prompted by many a doting parent

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A song conjuring up a myriad of images

Ethnic groups adorned in festive gear

Canada, home to many Peoples

Multiculturalism our proud legacy

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Red

We love the ceremonial dress

Of powwow dance and drum beat

Of wigwam, tipi, and longhouse

The ‘noble savage’ of the woods

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Yellow

We note the Chinese lunar New Year

The year of the rabbit in ’23

At the mid point of the year

Focusing on the dragon boat festivals

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Black

We honour the black culture

From Caribbean and Aftican lands

The jazz of the night clubs

Toronto’s Carabana festival

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White

We love colour

We love to decorate our lives

With ethnic colours

Creating pleasant memories

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Distorting colours

The palette of paint not always brilliant

After each ethnic festivity ends

We go back to living our lives

The brilliance fades

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Within the hustle and bustle

We live our real lives

We live what we truly value

Blithely the ethic colours fade

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Black

Time to unforget the somber shades of Africville

The underserved racialized communities

Youth carded by police for the shade of their skin

Victims of over-incarceration

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Yellow

Time to unforget the men who slaved to build the CPR rail

Dangerous work, abandoned when injured

When trying to unite with their families

We burdened them with a head tax

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Red

Broken treaties made with an oath

As long as the river flows and the sun rises

Innumerable commissions and inquiries

Paying lip service to the recommendations

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White

Red and Yellow, Black and White face

Where does white fit in the scheme

The most subtle colour on the palette

Lacking vibrancy but clearly in your face

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White

The colour of privilege

The shade of entitlement

The tint of dominance

The pigment of supremacy

They all are precious in whose sight

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The reds, the yellows the blacks

A rainbow of colour

In ROY G BIV the W is absent

The privilege of White devalues colour

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As whiteface we need to sing again

Joining in a techni-colour circle

Of reds, yellows, blacks.. a rainbow of colour

Time for white to take a back seat

Let other colours take a turn to lead

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Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Children so adorable

Children so innocent

Children so easily loved

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Red and Yellow, Black and

Do we love them just as well

When they grow into teens

Having their cuteness fade

When they become adults

Having lost all tints of adorability

.

Do we love them just as readily

When they insist on being heard

When they need their space

When they want to claim a place

Beyond the ethnic festivals

Within a multicultural country

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Turtle Island & Canada

Two sovereign nations

It time to replace rank

With Witaskewin*

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* Witaskewin: Cree word for, the hills where peace was made

Merriam-Webster

Rank (adjective) : offensive in odor or flavor especially : rancid

Rank (noun) : high social position

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Jasper Hoogendam (c) January 2023

Finders

Finders keepers, losers weepers.” A childish rhyme presumably of Roman origin.

When Columbus found this continent

He embarked on a cruel childish intent

Columbus most certainly was lost

Little did the natives anticipate the cost

To confirm what he mistakenly found

He initiated a PR campaign to confound

A wiley coward and clearly not very keen

To irk Isabella his dear sponsoring queen

Columbus too proud to admit his error

Embarked on a holy crusade of terror

The natives would have sent him packing

If they knew he’d be viciously attacking

He would be utterly foolish to admit

His parchment maps not worth a shekel

Any true historian knowing his mistake

Would see Columbus’ landclaim a fake

A man whose achievements are skewed

Its high time our history is reviewed

Those who find Columbus Day a thrill

Consider celebrating on the first of April

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Jasper Hoogendam  (c) January 2023

Rapping Our Head Around Reconciliation

We are destroying creation

We’re seeing the disintegration

We’re failing the next generation

Creating an intolerable situation

Now’s not the time for relaxation

We need a reorientation

It’s time to take some action

Let’s end the destruction

By objecting to the extraction

The oft shoddy production

The mindset of colonation

That’s increasing the devastation

To our homeland our nation

It’s time to create a sensation

Starting the education

To extend the duration

Of us as part of creation

There is no salvation

For this awesome creation

Till we stop the soil erosion

Till we stop air pollution

Till we end the deforestation

Addressing climate deterioration

Let’s listen to our First Nation

Who believe in ongoing habitation

Considering the seventh generation

Wanting healthy co-habitation

Of humanity with creation

They see the correlation

When we don’t respect creation

Increasing the pollution

From harmful transportation

And too much needless aviation

We need more conservation

Some serious reforestation

Let’s give a strong indication

As we hope for consolation

Working to help our nation

Let’s curb our ambition

Our never-ending addiction

To reckless consumption

Let’s take time for meditation

Striving to heal our nation

Time to end the denigration

Of the Indigenous population

Let’s end the frustration

Time to begin cooperation

Let’s work in collaboration

Working toward reconciliation

Full reconciliation

With all of creation

True reconciliation

With each First Nation

Making our ambition

To heal all of creation

Encouraging preservation

For the next generation

For the third generation

For the fourth generation

For the seventh generation

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(Anyone game to share this as a rap recording?)

Jasper Hoogendam. (c) January 2023

Reconciliation Reading List

Jody Wilson-Raybould published a recommended reading list to help people understand how reconciliation is different for each person’s experience with colonial policies and actions.

Taken from her 2022 book True Reconciliation

  1. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph – provides a lot of basic background on the Indian Act and how reconciliation requires addressing the act.
  2. Aboriginal Peoples and Politics: The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849 – 1989 by Paul Tennant – examines the “land question” in British Columbia.
  3. Braiding Sweet Grass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimerer – explores our connection with nature and reveals dimensions of Indigenous worldview.
  4. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King – examines racist and stereotypical views on Indigenous Peoples from historical and contemporary perspectives.
  5. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese – a novel about dealing with the trauma inflicted by the residential school system.
  6. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliots – a book on trauma, legacy oppression, and racism in North America.
  7. Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice – a novel about a small norther Anishinaabe community cut off from the outside world.
  8. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga – an examination of systemic racism, policing, and the lives of Indigenous Peoples and youth in northern Ontario
  9. Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson – a novel that blends humour with heartbreak in a coming-of-age novel.
  10. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School by Bev Sellars – a memoir of one Survivor’s story.
  11. Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin – a memoir that shares experiences in residential school and the journey of healing.

Some of these books are great and have had a profound impact. Importantly, these books are from very different perspectives. Reconciliation does not look the same for everyone. While there is much shared between First Nations Inuit, and Metis Peoples, there are also critical distinctions, including with respect to history, experience, and current realities Honouring and respecting their distinctions is part of responding to the legacy of colonialism.

Jody Wilson-Raybould 2023 page 15 – 16

I have had the opportunity to read five of these titles. I am thankful for the direction I have received in having these books recommended. Reading these books has not only moved me beyond the stereotypical images of Indigenous Peoples but also helps me understand why non-aboriginal people hang on to stereotypical sound bite images and concepts.

Some of these books are difficult to digest. Putting a human face to some of the devastating consequences of colonialism, drives home the point that we are dealing with real people, people who have parents, bothers and sisters and children who love and care about them.

Learning and Understanding are the first two steps in helping move Canada into a relationship of mutual respect for the Peoples who have contributed much to what Canada is today and what Canada can become.

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Jasper Hoogendam  (c) January 2023

Dissonant Music

The dance of privilege

Anglophones leading

In an evolving dance

To a playlist of Euro-centric music

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The Francphone guests

Not always in step

Preferring a different genre

Not ready to leave the party

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Recent immigrants invited

Selectively chosen

For their musical taste

Their ability to adapt to the rhythm

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The Inuit left out in the cold

No invitation received

The Metis occupying the margins

Not even recognized

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Indigenous inspired art

Gracing the invitation cards

The design given an appreciative nod

By the invited guests

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Those who live with privilege

Make up the guest list

Deciding who’s who

Guests who move in step to the music

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A land acknowledgment recited

An unobtrusive party etiquette

Adopted following the recent event

The Prime Minister’s apology*

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A faint and distant rhythm

Steady and persistent

Too present to ignore

A rhythm that spells life

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The heart beat of the woods

The heart beat of the river

The heat beat of the weather

The heart beat of the creator

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The Indigenous drum beat

Slowly increasing in volume

Gradually getting recognized

Offering wholeness to the dance

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The wholeness that is

Shalom

Wetaskewin

Living in peace and harmony

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Jasper Hoogendam  (c) January 2023

  * Stephen Harper in 2008

True Reconciliation

True Reconciliation: How to Be a Force for Change

Jody Wilson-Raybould McClelland & Stewart 2022

Anyone interested in the work of reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada would find Jody Wilson Raybould’s book, True Reconciliation a very good place to start. Wilson Raybould divides her book into three parts, Learn, Understand and Act.

Learn

In the first part Wilson Raybould recounts the key chronology of events describing the relationship between the European explorers & settler and the Aboriginal peoples. Much of her story comes from the oral history of Indigenous people, Metis and Inuit from many parts of Canada. A history which at best describes the needs and rights of Indigenous people being ignored and at worst a systematic attempt at genocide of Indigenous people.

Understand

In the second part Wilson Raybould describes the underlying challenges of two different cultures living side by side. She describes the Indigenous worldview and the Euro-centric worldview in some details yet with rather broad brushstrokes. She uses the contrasting worldviews to explain the underlying challenge of colonialism, European superiority and therefore the paternalistic treatment of Indigenous people by the colonists and more recently the Canadian government.

Act

In the third part, Wilson Rayboud points out the need to act. For too long there has been too much talk; reports and royal commissions studying the ‘Indian problem’ and apologies. The lack of action, for the most part, on the part of the government in implementing the numerous reports (almost 900 reports between 1965 and 1995 with 100 being major reports) gives a clear message that there is a lack of will to honour treaties despite the courts reaffirming Indigenous land rights every time a matter is decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. She outlines ways in which Canadian citizens can begin the process of reconciliation locally. She outlines how organizations and businesses can begin the process of reconciliation even while the federal government shows ongoing unwillingness and continues to act against reconciliation.

Wilson Raybould describes concrete actions that have been taken locally across Canada. She also describes behavours that are a hindrance to promoting reconciliation. The examples show how easy it can be to start making significant changes. She explains the various action in the context of a two part approach that needs to be taken. Part one is economic support for education, health care, child welfare and related needs with open consultation with Indigenous people. Part two is to replace the Indian Act with land claims settlement including Indigenous self-government.

Wilson Raybould pick up on some comments that Murray Sinclair made, chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We don’t need non-aboriginal people to help us heal. We need non-aboriginal people to fix themselves. We need non-indigenous people to stop working against reconciliation.

Murray Sinclair’s comment captures the heart of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s message in understanding True Reconciliation:How to Be a Force for Change.

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Jasper Hoogendam (c) January 2023

At Age Ten

The textbook I was given

Introduced me to Indians

A fascinating people

Enshrined in Canada’s history

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The textbook I was given

Showed me strange housing

A wigwam, a teepee, a longhouse

I memorized these novelties

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The textbook I was given

Introduced me to Indian warriors

War paint and tomahawk

Making me fantasize bizarre images

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The textbook I was given

Presented a past culture

Presented an idyllic past

I surmised as untenable today

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One day biking with my buddy

Saw a man standing in an orchard

My buddy called out to me

Did you see that drunken Indian

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I was confused

My first thought was

What have you got against him

My first memory of overt racism

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I was dumbfounded

So Indians aren’t just museum displays

There are real live Indigenous people

I felt betrayed

By the textbook I was given

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Jasper Hoogendam (c) January 2023

Half the Truth

Canada Post issue (*)

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In Canada we postured a new start

We laid out the hurts of the past

Indigenous citizens came forward

Stories overseen by Murray Sinclair*

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Survivors shared their stories

Unimaginable suffering exposed

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Listed 94 Calls For Action

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Sadly a story only half told

No perpetrators came forward

No confessions from those responsible

Truth-telling by perpetrators absent

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How can one hope for reconciliation

When perpetrators are hiding

Feeling shielded from prosecution

While their hurts fester within

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How can there be reconciliation

When half the truth is unspoken

When the perpetrators aren’t ready

To acknowledge their complicity

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As a nation we need to change

As a people we need to know

We need to acknowledge

The other half of the suffering

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We must unforget the past

We must recognize the pain

Of systemic discrimination

Of shielding those with privilege

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How will perpetrators heal

To personally come to terms

To openly confess

To be offered forgiveness

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Our nation was birthed in trauma

Many citizens carry the trauma

We cannot heal till

The trauma of each person is shared

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The trauma continues

The actions of the past

Will live on in the present

Unless we end the denial

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Jasper Hoogendam  (c) December 2022

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(*) This stamp is one in a series showcasing the artistic visions of Inuit, Métis and First Nations artists for the future of truth and reconciliation.

This image was designed by Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona, Inuit, Ukkusiksalingmiut, Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake, NU). Gayle believes each group within Canada has a different responsibility for reconciliation. For indigenous people, the responsibility is to themselves and to others within their communities: learning or passing on our language and culture that was attacked. The image features a woman lighting a qulliq, the traditional Inuit stone lamp used for heat and light, to signify caretaking. She is carrying on in her culture as she has always done, taking care of herself and others and healing.

Source: Canada Post website

*Murray Sinclair chairman of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2009 to 2015.